I’m back in the saddle again, more or less, but I hope the effort made by WaMo to keep Political Animal rolling along during my family medical emergency will convince you to drop a few ducats in the cup if you can as we rattle it this week. I mean, seriously, at a lot of sites principal bloggers would have bailed entirely, and substitutes would have done little more than to keep the embers glowing. So if you appreciate an extraordinary commitment to providing you stimulating content all week and year round, even when it’s difficult, it’s a very good time to check under the sofa cushions and help us keep PA going.

With that, here are some midday news/view snacks free for the noshing:

* Abbas, but not Netanyahu or Peres (who is under doctors’ orders to avoid travel), will attend Mandela funeral observances.

* TIME names ten finalists for 2013 Person-of-the-Year, from Bashar Assad to Edith Windsor. Ted Cruz and Miley Cyrus supply comic relief.

* Noted homophobe to head up new Russian state-run news agency.

* Profiles in message discipline: Dick Cheney says Obamacare has destroyed U.S. credibility in Middle East.

* At TAP, David Dayen examines precedent-setting power of efforts to nullify public employee pension commitments in Detroit and Illinois.

And in non-political news:

* Very weird college football regular season ends with 35 bowl participants announced.

As we break briefly for lunch, here another birthday song dedicated to my wife:

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.